Saturday, February 10, 2007

Not a pretty sight

Another, hitherto unseen photograph of last year's Qana tragedy has emerged, courtesy of Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs, attracting from him the label "media swarm".

The photograph is taken by Jeroen Oerlemans, The Netherlands, Panos Pictures, and the caption reads: "Paramedics show the dead body of a baby to the press after Israeli bombing of Qana, Lebanon, 30 July."

At first sight, it appears to be the reverse view of the now infamous dead baby shots (see below right), where the eponymous "Green Helmet" lifts the baby for the world to see, immortalised by Associated Press's Cathy Gannon, who described the scene:

After hours of digging in the blistering heat, Salam Daher emerged from the wreckage with the body of a 9-month-old baby, a blue pacifier still pinned to its nightshirt. He held the infant up and, click, an Associated Press photographer snapped another picture of Daher, in his trademark green helmet, displaying a civilian victim of Israeli bombs for the world to see.
However, on close scrutiny, this cannot be the original "dead baby" staging. That was set up immediately outside the basement. There is only a narrow strip of ground there, before the land falls away in a precipitous cliff. Yet the background in this new photograph is flat – you can see two figures in the distance.

The real giveaway is the cast of characters. The baby is being held by a man we call the "senior Red Cross worker". We see him many times in the Qana shots, but he is not in the original "dead baby" scenes, where the baby is held aloft for the cameras.

We do have "senior Red Cross worker" in another scene though. But this is round the corner from the basement opening, to the front of the house, where "Green Helmet" and sundry others pose with the baby, before its body is put on a stretcher for another pose and camera shot.

From the look of it, therefore, this shot, where the baby is held aloft, is an entirely new sequence which we have not seen before. That none of the shots seem to have been used seems unsurprising. The photographers are crowded in so tightly, they are spoiling the shot.

Charles Johnson offers an explanation as to why they could not be used. "Because," he says, "it really wrecks the suspension of disbelief that actors need to convince the audience. It's like seeing the scaffolds and lights and fake landscapes behind the scenes at a theater, in the middle of a performance."

With these, there must be hundreds if not thousands of unused shots, the sum of which would readily confirm that which we have long argued, with the limited, poor quality material available to us. But it is highly significant that, through the height of the controversy and subsequently, not one of the photographers who had been at Qana on 30 July – or any of their editors – broke ranks.

Bearing in mind that more material could only have strengthened our thesis - so strong is the evidence already gathered - the silence tells its own story. This is the omerta of the media mafia. As Charles wrote:

The Qana photographs are some of the most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking images you could ever imagine. And that's why it's important to recognize that there are people with souls so dead and intentions so evil that they will cynically use these photographs to manipulate your feelings.
And the oh sooooo responsible media not only went along with it but denied it had happened, and their role in it. The photograph we show today provides a tiny window into their dark world, and it is not a pretty sight.


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